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Down syndrome

After a 10-year battle, children with 'mild' Down Syndrome are getting more support

But only as an interim measure.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Education has announced new resources to children with “mild” Down Syndrome.

The lack of resources for children with the condition was highlighted by broadcaster Brendan O’Connor last month, prompting widespread calls for support for parents.

Today, Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan announced that the government has agreed that additional resources will be allocated to schools as an interim measure to support those children with Down syndrome, who are not already supported through the National Council for Special Education’s (NCSE) annual allocation process.

A joint statement from Pat Clarke, CEO Down Syndrome Ireland and Mary Doherty, Chairperson Down Syndrome Ireland says that the announcement brings to an end a “10-year battle”, but does not go far enough.

“Today’s announcement brings to an end a 10-year battle that families have endured and fought so desperately to highlight and change. The unjust situation brought unnecessary stress, pressure and trauma on families and today’s decision, whereby now all children with Down syndrome with intellectual disabilities have access to resource hours, goes some way to alleviating that.

We only welcome today’s decision as an interim measure pending the overall roll-out of the new and so desperately-needed model of resource hour allocation for children with education needs which the Government has promised for September 2015.

“However, today’s announcement does not go far enough. A recognition of Down syndrome as a disability in its entirety, by the Department of Education would have spared our children and their families the continued trauma and expense of assessments, a system based more on bureaucracy rather than reality and logic.”

They called on the government to provide for all people with disabilities.

Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who was thanked along with her colleague Regina Doherty, said the news was “wonderful”.

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